Cellulite is a term given to dimpled fat deposits that occur around the hips, thighs and buttocks of many women and some men. While cellulite isn't harmful and most doctors consider it normal, many people are bothered by how it looks. None of the existing "treatments" for cellulite, including massages, creams, supplements and wraps, have proven to get rid of cellulite. In fact, some procedures, such as liposuction, may worsen the condition. The covers of health and fitness magazines may advertise exercise programs designed to obliterate cellulite, but working out won't necessarily give you the dimple-free butt you're hoping for.
Causes of Cellulite
Cellulite appears when fat under the skin bulges through the collagen fibers holding it in. While the causes of cellulite aren't well-known, a couple of factors can contribute to it. Hormones, including estrogen, insulin and noradrenalin likely play a role in the development of cellulite. Genetic factors, including gender, race, metabolism and fat distribution can also contribute to the development of cellulite. People who eat too much fat, carbohydrates and salt are more likely to have cellulite, as are smokers and those who are very sedentary.
Exercise and Cellulite
Unfortunately, exercise isn't a sure-fire way to blast away cellulite. First, it's not possible to "spot reduce" fat -- you can't choose the body parts that will slim down first. If you're naturally pear-shaped and want to get rid of fat on your butt and thighs, those areas may be the last to release fat stores. Second, while exercise is a great way to burn fat, you'll probably always have at least a little bit of fat under your skin. If genetics have determined that it will appear as cellulite, there's not much that exercise can do. Reducing the amount of fat you have may minimize its appearance, but even thin people have cellulite.
Tips to Diminish
Even if your genetics have cursed you with thighs that resemble the texture of orange peel, there are some simple things you can do that may minimize the appearance of cellulite. Dehydration can make cellulite appear more pronounced, so drink at least eight glasses of decaffeinated, non-alcoholic liquids each day to maintain adequate hydration. Don't smoke and avoid yo-yo dieting, as repeated weight gain and loss can stretch the collagen in your skin and result in cellulite. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise to prevent storing excess fat under the skin that may present itself as cellulite.
According to Dr. Carl Thornfeldt, compromised circulation is a major factor in cellulite development. When blood doesn't circulate properly, excess fluid can accumulate around fat, causing fat globules to cluster together, decrease collagen synthesis and reduce tissue repair. Increasing circulation through exercise may reduce lymph buildup and minimize the appearance of cellulite. Some supplements, such as horse chestnut and gotu kola, may also improve circulation -- but talk with your doctor before you consider adding supplements to your diet.